NYC II! Day 3: Crif Dogs

As foodies, we did our “research” before embarking on our NYC food trip. That inevitably meant rewatching the New York Layover (and No Reservations) episodes…which, we’re not complaining about! In the Layover, Chef David Chang takes Anthony Bourdain to crif dogs (connected to PDT just next door) for hot dogs and the all-american favourite, tater tots dipped in gooey, melted processed cheese. 

Crif Dogs was opened in 2001 by Brian Shebairo and Chris Antista. The name of the joint came to be when Brian was trying to say Chris’ name whilst eating a hot dog. Currently, there are two Crif Dogs locations, one in the Lower east side (original) and one in Brooklyn.

The awning signage of the restaurant blends in but the giant dog hanging above is loud enough to get your attention; eat me!. In a city plastered with signs, all competing for your attention, Crif Dogs is comfortable to be a bit more discrete. 

The shop is down a few steps from street level. This place is about relaxing and it has a good sense of humour, both good things. For a kick, try the archaic arcade machines but be warned, it’ll probably end up eating your quarters. 

Sense of humour? Once again, check. I’m just noticing this now. I thought she represented the shape of a “real woman” well (compared to Barbies at least) but wow! Can I say that she's very well endowed in the chest area? haha 

Off to the side, you’ll find a chalkboard of their “Cheap-Ass Specials.” 2 NY’ers + Soda for only $5.25?! That’s definitely a good deal! 

We didn’t get any of those though because we came for the “specialty” dogs that Crif Dogs is known for. The menu’s also posted up online so you can try to be all pro and know what you want before you get there, unlike us stumbling our way through the menu there all slack-jawed. Good thing we beat the rush!

The wait was a bit long for our hot dogs (imagine coming here ravenous in the wee hours of the morning…that’d be patience-testing.) but that’s understandable considering there was only one cook in the kitchen. Can you say velcro wallet?! (think Ryan Gosling’s reaction to Steve Carrell’s wallet in crazy stupid love). I tease my friend about that…perhaps too often. :D

Chihuahua – a bacon wrapped dog covered w avocadoes & sour cream (4.5) (salsa +.75)
Crif dogs are a combo of beef and pork, that are smoked and deep fried to order (well that explains the wait time!). I’d say this one was my favourite. Definitely a good call on Vickie’s part to add the salsa because it balanced out the richness of the avocado and sour cream. 

Good morning – a bacon wrapped dog smothered with melted cheese & a fried egg (5)
A good morning indeed! I really like the whole bacon-wrapped dog idea. Makes something already delicious even better (or err…artery clogging). It was alright…on the dry side so it would’ve been cool had the yolk been runny. 

Jon-jon deragon – our dog w a schmear of cream cheese, scallions & everything bagel seeds (3.75)
Of course the guys would get this (as recommended by David Chang)! It tasted as it should—like an everything bagel, but hot dog version. 

Spicy redneck – a house dog, bacon wrapped, w/ chilli, coleslaw & jalapeños (4.75)
To me, this looked the most promising! There’s a substantial amount of “stuff” besides the dog and the bun. I liked the crunch and little bit of kick that accompanies the weiner. It’s clear that the dogs are deep fried, but my cavewoman palette can’t discern the beef/pork combo and the smoked element is mostly lost on me as well. 

Tater tots – w/ melted cheese (2.5/3.5)
This is so bad yet so good. I loved how the tater tots were perfectly crunchy and more like teeny hash browns on crack (thanks to the melted cheese). They came fresh out of the deep fryer, aka piping hot. I could see myself enjoying this (on the sly) w/ a cold beer. Okay maybe half a cold beer due to my tolerance but you get my point!

Crif Dogs definitely knows it’s identity. It’s very clear that this place is about having fun. And the back wall is reminiscent of a food truck, perhaps an ode to the original plan of serving hot dogs in the alley? (I’m probably reading too much into it…). I’m also enjoying the exposed brick wall and the picnic bench-like seating. 
Saying hi by giving us the finger? (but she's smiling so i'm gonna assume it's a nice...gesture-ish.)

Andrew was really excited about going next door to PDT (for their cocktails and dogs not available at crif dogs such as the momofuku dog) but there weren’t going to open for another hour and we had other places to go… Sorry, next time!! ;D

Verdict: As an experience, I enjoyed going to Crif Dogs. The dogs, to me seemed like weiners +some toppings, aka nothing too blazingly special.  It's definitely a nice change-up from the usual food carts that you find everywhere. If someone highly recommended a particular dog, maybe I’d give it a try. Otherwise, I’m happy to say I’ve gone once.

Check ‘em out! http://www.crifdogs.com/

3.5 out of 5 NOMs
Crif Dogs on Urbanspoon


  1. Wow! The foods are looking very tasty. I like Hot Dog. Vegetable, Meet, Chicken, Beef spicy Hot Dog. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

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